The question threw many for a loop on social media as the Democrats’ claims that Trump conspired with Russia to somehow ‘steal’ the presidency had seemed to be put to bed following an attempt to impeach the president that went nowhere, despite months of hearings presenting second or third-hand information about the matter.
Though Bolton says he will not vote for Trump in November, he avoided the bait laid by Todd and said there is “no evidence” that the president colluded with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
When Bolton pushed back against the narrative, Todd tried to distance himself and clarified multiple times he was not talking about “collusion.” He quickly moved on without explaining what exactly he was referring to, if he was not talking about “collusion.”
The question — and seeming resurgence of the Russia/Trump collusion conspiracy theory — was inspired by a recent report from the New York Times claiming through anonymous sources that Russia has paid militants in Afghanistan to attack US troops.
Trump has waved off the report from the “fake news” outlet and claimed he has been tougher on Russia than any other administration.
…Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine – Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their “source”?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2020
Critics have meanwhile used the report to claim, as Todd does, that the president is influenced by Putin and too hesitant to publicly go against him.
In the past 72 hours we’ve learned:1. Trump knew Putin was hunting our soldiers.2. Putin successfully killed our soldiers.3. The Admin. knowingly sold faulty anti-body testing kits.4. COVID-19 had its largest ever single day cases.5. Trump tweeted a “white power” video.
— The Lincoln Project (@ProjectLincoln) June 28, 2020
Trump denies being briefed by US Intel that Russian intelligence officers with GRU recently offered money to Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there.Of note: zero condemnation for Putin, Russia, GRU below. Will US respond? https://t.co/QH8aJ2h1j9
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) June 28, 2020
Todd’s question was blasted as “disgraceful” on social media, with many shocked to see the anchor making such a bold presumption despite no direct evidence to support it.
“Chuck Todd can’t let the Democrats’ bogus Russia narrative end!” tweeted GOP rapid response director Steve Guest.
“It’s almost as if there wasn’t a Mueller investigation with this kind of narrative still being pushed,” the Hill reporter Joe Concha added.